A prenup is a short term for a prenuptial or premarital agreement made between two parties before a marriage takes place. This agreement will set down specific stipulations that both parties agree to should the marriage end in divorce. These stipulations can include division of assets, property, and debts, which would be considered marital and subject to Florida’s equitable distribution guidelines. Also included can be alimony (except temporary alimony which cannot be included)ownership of a business, and retirement benefits. Care for minor children including child support, parental time-sharing, and the parenting plan, as well as attorney fees, cannot be included in a prenup. Prenups have become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more couples have knowledge of “horror” stories of what can happen in a divorce. Too, many couples are marrying for the second time or more and are aware of how helpful a prenup can be if needed. Most everyone who goes to the altar agrees to “death do us part,” thinking of the death of the individuals rather than the death of the marriage.
But is every prenup honored at mediation or in a courtroom? A prenup will be accepted only if it is properly prepared, and in the state of Florida, there are very definite requirements for a valid prenup. While a prenup can be prepared by the couple, as you will see by the following guidelines, it is wise to use an attorney to make sure the prenup document is correctly done and will be done to the court’s satisfaction.
- All prenup agreements must be in writing. No other form such as a plain letter, tape, text, or email will be accepted.
- Both parties must sign the document
- Both signatures must be witnessed and notarized
- Neither party can unduly influence the other, threaten, or coerce the other in any way to sign
- If legal counsel is used, one party cannot have a “big gun” attorney while the other no attorney or an attorney with little experience
- If either party or both do not speak or understand English, an interpreter must be present at the signing to read and explain the document and allow time for questions and concerns.
- Both parties must fill out an in-depth financial disclosure. If at any time in the future, there is found to be financial information that was withheld or lied about the entire prenup will be discounted as invalid.
While considering a prenup may be regarded as to be “unromantic” the truth is it is a smart decision given the need for each person to be able to support themselves and receive a fair distribution of marital assets, property, and debts should a divorce occur. And, with the divorce rate in the United States hovering near 50% for first marriages and higher for second and beyond unions, the chances of needing a prenup are high. The old saying “it is better to be safe than sorry” can easily be applied when considering whether to have a prenup or not.
It is better to have a prenup if you don’t need it than not to have one if you do. Consult with a qualified, experienced Prenuptial Agreement attorney in Palm Beach Gardens, Grant J. Gisondo can advise you in.